Sunday, January 30, 2011

How the twins discovered their special gift.

Carrick is still a beautiful little town, despite the neatness being mildly sullied by the usual sprawl of big box stores and crystal meth use among the youth, and it is also a little famous (despite never being mentioned on CBC). 

 Most notably Carrick is famous for a yearly event which draws international attention to this otherwise quiet community. Like all small towns Carrick had to specialize, and someone in the great history of the town had decreed that Carrick would always remain true to its Scottish roots. This is how it ended up that Carrick hosts the largest Highland Games and Scottish Clan Gathering outside of Scotland. Every summer thousands of visitors don family tartan, kilts and tams and descend upon Carrick to celebrate all things Scottish including who can throw the log the farthest.  

 The Tattoo 
Besides the Caber toss, and the fact that there was a concession stand that sold haggis, the most interesting thing about the Highland Games was always the opening ceremony called the tattoo. This is a surprisingly pagan celebration, with introductions of the clans, a Maypole dance and, most impressively, a pipe brigade. In fact, hundreds of pipers would play over the three days of the games. They played “Amazing Grace”, “Lough Lomand” and, of course, "Scotland the Brave".

In the summer months leading up to the Highland Games the sound of pipes in the town was ubiquitous. Every school, after classes were out, every community center and veterans’ hall became practice grounds for pipers. The summers were still and humid and the melancholy tones of the bagpipe would settle into the air like the scent of barbequed chicken and mown lawn. 
            The twins’ first year at the tattoo was very exciting for them, for they were only 5. 

The music they heard affected them like nothing else ever had, so when they got home that night, well after 11 pm, they crawled under the covers of Rain’s bed and began to recreate the sounds they had heard. 

With only one night of practice, they had perfected it and could execute an amazingly accurate impression of the bagpipes. This was their unique gift. 

           Now for those who did not grow up in a Scottish town or household, and who might be a little unfamiliar with the bagpipe here is a fact you need to know. Every piper produces two sounds when he is piping. The first is the drone, this is the deep fairly constant bass chord that carries the tune of the song. It goes something like MMMeeeeeeeh MMMeeeeeeeh, and sometimes raises or lowers a little in register. The second part of the sound is the fingered notes, these make up the tune that is carried so gracefully by the drone. It goes a little like, Mehn, Mehn Mehn Mehn, Mehn. This two part duality of the bagpipe so impressed itself upon the twins, that when they discovered that Rain could perfectly replicate the sound of the drone, and Sunshine could perfectly sing the notes that they knew this was a very special gift with which they had been blessed. And it was with this special gift that Rain and Sunshine were truly accepted by their community, and through which they allowed themselves to experience the Scottishness that did not flow through their veins.

 This special gift of course is what brought them real fame.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Who the twins are and how they always knew they were special.

There wasn’t a time when the twins did not know they were special. It was a fact as clear as the blue sky, the importance of hockey season and the devastating badness of Menudo. That they knew this was in no way surprising. Everyone knew.

        In the streets, the shops, and the parks of their town the twins were always treated differently than everyone else. Strangers took their picture, stopped them to talk, and sometimes gave them gifts. 

Their favourite story from their childhood was one that their mother told. 

“Tips for being us.” The twins would exclaim, the idea entranced them no matter how often they heard the story.

         The twins were also special because they were blessed with a unique gift, which it will be important for us to discuss later. For now what you must know is that they were also blessed with the longest, not to mention most beautiful, last name in their entire town. In kindergarten they had impressed the class and their teacher by both pronouncing and spelling this astonishing moniker. When the teacher stumbled on their name during role call they stood up in unison and said, 

            “It’s pronounced Semchizen, S-E-M-C-Z-Y-S-Z-Y-N”
The class gasped at this prodigal understanding of both z’s and the rule that y is sometimes a vowel. A rule that most of the class had not yet learned. Thus the twins earned the early admiration of their peers.

Every new teacher would stare at their name with increasing anxiety until the twins would come to their aid by explaining the pronunciation. When they went to the bank, clerks would ask them to pronounce it. They spelled their name for everyone, so that when giving information on person or on the phone they would always say “my name is Rain/ Sunshine Semczyszyn-that’s-spelled- S-E-M-C-Z-Y-S-Z-Y-N”.

Now you might find this a little surprising, but parents of the hippie persuasion often name their children after natural events. In fact, a close family friend of the twins was called River. When they found out there was two of them, the twins parents had searched for names that balanced each other out; the yin and yang of nature, the positive and the negative in perfect harmony. 

So when you know this, their names are more understandable. The twins were called Rain Semczyszyn and Sunshine Semczyszyn and they lived in a town called Carrick, which is Scots Gaelic for ‘Town’.